10 October 2012 • On–campus • Virginia Nieuwsma
With the waning autumn light as a backdrop, nearly thirty seminarians from an evangelism class at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York), joined our seminary community for the service of Vespers. The neighboring seminarians, who are studying under the guidance of St. Joseph's Rector, the Reverend Monsignor Peter Vaccari, filled the our campus refectory afterwards and joined the "regulars" for a delicious meal prepared by Chef Nat Fasciani.
A diverse group who hailed from locations as distant as Uganda, China, and the Philippines, the St. Joseph's seminarians commented on how much they enjoyed the Vespers service. For most of them, it was their first visit to St. Vladimir's. The event came about because Msgr. Peter had invited The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, SVOTS chancellor/CEO, to teach one of the sessions for his New Evangelization class, and so Fr. Chad extended an invitation to the class for Vespers and dinner as well.
After dinner, the guests convened in the Metropolitan Philip Auditorium to hear Fr. Chad's address. He spoke about the Gospel mandate to evangelize and encouraged all of the gathered seminarians—both Roman Catholic and Orthodox—to remember that divisions "are a luxury we can no longer afford." The class resonated with Fr. Chad's description of the culture, which, he explained, is moving from a post–Christian era to an aggressively anti–Christian era, not only in the United States but also around the world.
In addition, Fr. Chad discussed the error of syncretism, and how important it is to preserve the Orthodox Christian faith in its entirety. He cited several examples of positive Catholic and Orthodox mission approaches, such as the one employed by Alaskan missionaries of earlier centuries. Students also expressed great interest in the discussion of one of this century's developing challenges, the competing goals of Christian and Islamic evangelization throughout the world.
St. Joseph's Seminary  was founded in 1891 to serve the needs of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for clergy. Its forty-acre campus is just minutes from St. Vladimir's, and over the years the two institutions have enjoyed a warm and cordial relationship. Recently, several greater New York Catholic seminaries merged to create one larger seminary, and St. Joseph's is currently educating over 100 candidates for Roman Catholic orders.
Monsignor Peter wrote, in a letter of thanks, afterwards, "I'd like to express my gratitude for your reception of my class on Wednesday evening at St. Vladimir's. Thank you for inviting us to join your community for Vespers and dinner, for your very thoughtful and thought-provoking lecture, and the time in your great bookstore." The Monsignor added that he plans to send a reciprocal invitation for the St. Vladimir's faculty to join the community at St. Joseph's for dinner and a program, in December.